Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lazing on a sunny afternoon...

Quite so, Ray Davies of The Kinks. That's all I seem to be doing. And why?

Because of stupid, goddamn pointless work experience. This is going to be one major, unedited, non-sensival (likely) rant. One of the things the Uni prides itself on is its employement rate after the course. Therefore, you'd think it would take some responsibility for its students' work experience. But has it? I can't help thinking, from a personal point of view, what a waste of time this whole placement idea is.

1. We received CV writing and interview advice in late January, during the busiest term of the year. Which meant:
2. Most people didn't start thinking about placements until the Easter break. Which was when people simultaneously started thinking about exams.
3. The Uni FORCES - that is, you must have it in order to pass onto year 3 - the 6 week minimum placement. A lot of places see that as a questionable length of time: what can you bring to a company, a major company where your experience will be worthwhile, in just 6 weeks? There aren't many places that see 6 weeks as a good time period: most offer 1-2 weeks, or several months to a year.
4. Because of THAT, nearly all companies are reluctant to pay for just 6 weeks, though most cover travel expenses. Which is still, not a wage.
5. And that means you have to spend 6 or more weeks of your summer not earning much needed money to cover the debt we've accumulated over the last year.
6. That's also assuming you have your placement sorted, 6 weeks, no more no less, no gaps, in one place: if you don't, you can't get paid work over the summer until you guarantee your work experience because that must come first otherwise you won't pass the year. Personally, I now won't have had ANY paid work over this summer, due to the 'neccessity' of organising a placement. Brilliant.
7. All the good places go very quickly. Most decent magazines, for example, fill their placement spots about a year in advance. Why weren't we warned that? Why is our placement guidance held back til January, when in retrospect you realise that it should have been the time for finalising a placement, not starting to think about it.

Of course, this doesn't apply if you signed up to a STEP placement, where although the placements aren't always quite suitable, everything else is sorted for you. The Uni, for some reason, didn't see fit to advertise how useful that scheme is however, instead presenting it as an unglamorous alternative.

To sum up those interweaving, mish mashed points: Your often non-paid, not-particularly suitable placement is enforced otherwise you fail your course. It's a key part of the degree, and one students are interested to have, yet the Uni is inclined to sit back and let it add to students' pressing problems. If it's such a valuable element of the course for your students, why isn't it addressed so? It seems, at the moment, and I have no doubt come October it will seem the same: a complete waste of time.

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